Friday - Kripalu Yoga Retreat TravelogueFriday morning I woke up at 10am with a to-do list to get done before I headed out. I diligently worked through it, and, as usual, things popped up that I wasn't expecting. It was quite normal for me to head out later than I had hoped. This is the way of my world and something I'm hoping to get a handle on after my delightful retreat!
I left the house, headed towards the highway - and I was not two minutes away from home when I hit a detour sign! I had to laugh. Life was trying to put hurdles in my path so I could show how much this meant to me. I would not be dissuaded! I ignored their directed route - which took me further from my destination. I would out-think this hurdle. I chose another route, and soon I was on my way without any loss of time. Score one for Lisa!
It was about a two hour drive to get into the Berkshires. First there was the Mass Pike - large, fast, a main trunk-line across Massachusetts. Then off exit two, into the quieter, pretty tourist towns of the central Berkshires. The roads got smaller and smaller. A left turn into a more residential area. A minor mis-loop around a rotary which my GPS easily helped me remedy, one last hiccup to prove my intention. Then the road was under construction. Now we were inching along on bare earth and at one point the road went one-lane with signalmen. I was happy about all of this. It was a sign. I had to slow down. Relax, go slowly, pay attention to life. This weekend was all about slowing down.
Then the large stone pillars were there proclaiming the entry to Kripalu! I had arrived!
The long, winding drive up through the Kripalu property was absolutely bucolic. Pastoral, peaceful, waving trees, wildflowers, you expected to see fawns and pixies relaxing in the sunny glades. Speed bumps every short while reminded you to go slowly - but I needed no such prompting. The gradual slowdowns from the Pike had helped to get me into the mood. By the time the main building came into view, with the gorgeous lake beyond, I was breathing deeply and more relaxed than I'd been in a while. I was here. I was really, finally here.
The short term parking by the reception area was full, so I drove forward to the large parking lot down the hill. I found a spot and left my luggage in the car for now. I walked up the hill back to the reception area, and went in the front door.
Waiting right there was a friendly greeter who welcomed me. She had me fill out a green liability waver with contact info and then directed me to wait for a spot at the front desk. A second greeter hung out with me while I waited, and it was only maybe a minute before a person at the front desk was available to talk with me. She was also friendly and said that my room was ready. It was about 2:45pm at this point and the rooms weren't officially supposed to be ready until 4:30pm so I was happy! I was checking in fairly early - really check-in only opens at 2:15pm and the sessions weren't for many hours yet but I wanted to be there for every possible second :)
They gave me my plastic key-card, a map of the grounds, a map of the building, and a magazine about Kripalu. Then they had another greeter take over! The friendly, elderly man gave me a customized schedule that included the times of my Intro to Meditation and Yoga seminars. He also took me over to a big wall map and explained exactly where my room was, where the seminars would be held, where the dining hall was, and much more. It was a wonderful, gentle introduction. I felt fully cared for.
Once that was done I headed out to the car, got my luggage, and headed back up. If you have non-rolly luggage I recommend finding a spot near the reception front door - it's a fairly uphill hike from the parking area to the reception area. Once inside, I took the elevator up to the 4th floor. My room was 482. If you can get this room, it is AWESOME. The top floor. The end of the building directly facing the lake. It is the ULTIMATE room :) In this image, it's in the top right of the structure.
This room is immediately above the women's hot tub and sauna, with stairs only two rooms away, so you can go up and down to the sauna and hot tub without seeing a soul! There was not one noise from any other room the entire weekend. The only soul we saw was our across-the-hall neighbor, once.
Bunny was there admiring the incredible view. I apologize for the screen in the way :)
A note on the rooms. This building and grounds were originally a Jesuit retreat. Therefore this is not an over-the-top Vegas luxury suite with mink oil and caviar. It is about simplicity, peace, and finding yourself. The rooms are quiet and plain. You can even go "cheaper" than this room if you want, to save money, and bunk up 24-to-a-room like a school dormitory / Girl Scout camp. We chose the more personal route, just two to a room, with our own sink. There was a shower just a short way down the hall, with personal stalls, with delightful lavender soap (in a wall unit) provided.
It was a gorgeous day out, and the next two days were predicting rain, so we decided to get right outside to explore the grounds. First we walked down the hill past a cool rock-egg moving sculptures -
We walked over to the labyrinth! It was delightful to come so early because we had the grounds pretty much to ourselves. We got to explore everywhere in peace and serenity, with barely another soul to be seen.
Bunny was great and had brought sun tan lotion, for it was quite warm out now. Labyrinths come in all shapes and sizes, from spirals to twists and circles. This one is really cool. It almost seems like a spiral, but there are back-turns in it. That is, you start out meandering around, admiring the gorgeous flowers, drawing in their scent, feeling the textures of the shrubs, and you think you're moving in towards the center. Then you come around a corner and find you're near the beginning again! It reminds you that life has setbacks and that you just have to trust that you've made progress and keep going. Around it went. We both walked in silence, taking our time. At first my mind was still busy with all the thoughts of the drive and settling in and other random things. But after time it began to quiet. I breathed in the fragrance of the different flowers. I ran my hands over the leaves, feeling their texture. I listened to the bird song and the gentle rustling of the leaves. It became more and more peaceful.
I could see the center pole just up ahead - but no! There was one last twist to take me away! I laughed out loud at that, it was so typical of life. But I kept going, and soon enough we stood at the center.
There were two other main gardens on the map - a grotto garden and a meditation garden, both on the non-lake-side of the Kripalu complex. We walked around the buildings and headed out. There was a quiet forest path to get there, with a bridge over a stream, which was quite delightful. We found the grotto garden first, set up against a hillside with an array of rocks and flowers. It was quite lovely. There were large, aromatic peonies along the base. Then we found a bench under a wooden pergola and sat for a while, watching flocks of dragonflies chase each other across the grassy lawn. Then we headed up the hill to the meditation garden.
This Japanese inspired rectangle had white sand in it with a few large rocks in different locations. We walked around the perimeter of the large garden then sat for a while admiring it and the cool shade. One end - seen in this photo - had a bust of Kripalu, the founder of this style of yoga. Finally it was time for dinner, so we headed in.
We were there a few minutes early, then at 6pm they opened up the doors and let us in. The large room was well lit with wood tables and chairs. The center had two main buffet lines - one for vegetarians and one for meat-eaters. Both had fantastic salad bars plus a selection of a number of dishes plus a soup. There were several kinds of fresh breads, several kinds of organic jams and jellies and butters. Milk, water, fresh cider, lavender tea. A separate buffet area held sandwich fixings with a variety of options. Yet another buffet area held "simple foods" - basic grains, steamed veggies, and rice for those who wanted a plain fare.
Bunny had been worried about living on "twigs and sprouts" - instead this food was gourmet chef level. Everything we tried was delicious. The fresh flavors burst from the food, and there were all sorts of options. Over the days we had Indian food, salmon, chicken, tapioca pudding, cinnamon raisin bread, herbed split pea soup, and many other delicious items.
After dinner we went to an open orientation session that was for the whole complex. A woman did a slide show on what the center offered, how to get information on events, and explained that in addition to our "scheduled events" that there were a variety of other open events that we were welcome to attend to. There were concerts, meditation sessions, yoga sessions of all styles, and other things happening like kayak trips that we could sign up for any time we wanted. It was amazing.
Then on to the first session of our Intro to Yoga and Meditation course. We went down to the "Mountainview" room in the basement. It was sunny with lovely windows, about the size of a large classroom. There were about 20 students there, plus the instructor and two helpers. First we all sat in a circle while she talked with us about the background of yoga and meditation. She explained how yoga helps improve circulation, muscle tone, flexibility, digestion, and many other body aspects. It's about helping the body find balance. Then she talked about meditation and how it helps the mind calm, focus, and be able to handle the normal stress of life. We went around and introduced ourselves. We learned some basic standing yoga poses - twisting, turning, getting our spines to settle more naturally into their path.
By the time we were finished with the session, Bunny and I were ready for bed! There were other events going on, but we headed upstairs and gazed out the window for a while blissfully. Bunny called her boyfriend, and I admit I weakened. I had intended for this weekend to be completely electronics, free, but I gave in and sent a short email to my boyfriend to let him know how happy I was. Then Bunny and I fell asleep.
Kripalu Photo Gallery - Friday's Photos
Kripalu Yoga Retreat Travelogue - Main Page
Yoga Poses and Information
Meditation Poses and Information
Lisa's 2011 Travelogues Main Page
Lisa's Travelogues Main Page